I was hit with some cruel reality while writing this article: I’m an old fuck. But, before we get to this realisation, let’s get all David Copperfield and backtrack.
When I was thinking about this latest edition of the ‘A Love Letter to…’ series, I was pondering exactly what it was that made me love the Western Digital (WD from herein) PR2100 NAS (AKA network-attached storage) drive so much.
Let’s consider the fundamentals. It’s not a particularly sexy looking device, unless you get your sheets sweaty to thoughts of plastic cuboids and blinking blue lights. Inside is just a small computer and a couple of hard drives. It doesn’t plug into your TV, or a games console, it just sits there, attached to your router.
Look at it:
But, just like a parent and a particularly ugly child, I love the WD PR2100 NAS drive with all my heart. It’s become a companion, a compatriot, a friend. And I’d die for it.
Okay, maybe you should calm down and tell us what you actually use the WD PR2100 NAS drive for
Right, so I mainly use it as a media server. This means I can access files on it from wherever I am in the world (as long as there’s an internet connection, of course).
If I want to, say, listen to a track or watch a video, I can just connect to my WD PR2100 on whatever device and get going. Effectively, it’s my own personal, curated streaming service — a service that’d be worth this love letter by itself to be honest.
But it’s something beyond just the convenience of the NAS drive that makes it so special to me.
To state the obvious: Most people have strong relationships with the art they love — and I’m no different. I’ve spent my life moving from area to area, house to house, and school to school — and one of the things that got me through that was the books, music, and films I love. They’ve been a constant.
Now, I’ve been collecting media for years and years. Hell, almost as long as I can remember, but when I was thinking about the WD PR2100 for this piece I came to a realization: I still have, in one way or another, a huge amount of the physical media I’ve collected.
A bootleg CD of Queen’s greatest hits bought from a roadside Bosnian piracy shack when I was nine? In a box at my folks’.
A DVD of the Ali G movie (shout out Ali G Indahouse) my teenage brain demanded I watch on repeat? That’s in another box.
A scratched-to-fuck Depeche Mode record I got for a pound at a car boot sale I worked at in Ascot? That’s actually over there in my record collection.
While I still have books, CDs, and movies from 20 years ago (this is how I realized I’m an old fuck), the same can’t be said for my digital files.
There’s probably a ten to fifteen year stretch of my computing life that has disappeared. Due to hard drive failures, stolen machines, and cloud-less phones, I’ve lost so many videos, MP3s, and photos. That means demos by local bands, weird movies we watched during school — so much media that shaped me just… gone. Nowhere to be found and unrecoverable.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: What about Google Drive or iCloud or DropBox? Those services exist precisely to stop that sort of digital loss, right?
Damn straight — I couldn’t do without them, but what my NAS drive does is similar, but totally fucking different.
While cloud services are fine for back-up, they just don’t have the same transfer or download speeds as a NAS drive. They’re also nowhere near as customisable, or as flexible — something my WD PR2100 has in spades. For example, I’ve installed Plex on there (which was very easy), and can now use a Netflix-style app to access all my digital files. God, I fucking love it — and it’s not something you can do with iCloud.
My NAS drive doesn’t just provide me with a back-up (which it can do too), it acts as a center for my media collection. I can digitize my physical media and store it on there. I can ensure my current digital files are always there. It’s everything I need it to be.
Basically, it’s this easily accessible, convenient repository of some of the things I love most in the world. It’s an ever-growing, ever-evolving collection that I can take with me anywhere — no matter where I’m moving or traveling. And I love it. Oh god, do I love it.
Should you get your very own NAS drive?
This depends. An 8TB WD PR2100 (that’s two 4TB hard drives, but using RAID 1 for back-ups, means you only fill one) will set you back $600.
This isn’t cheap, but consider that 2TB of extra iCloud storage a month will cost you $10. If you have to use that for the next decade, it adds up quickly. But once you’ve bought a NAS drive, it’s just there. No more expenditure.
This doesn’t feel like the right argument though, as you’ll probably still use a cloud back-up service anyway. No, a NAS drive is an investment in yourself and in your media. If you’ve got this far in the article, you’ll already know if you want one or not.
For a lot of people, a Netflix and Spotify subscription is enough — and that’s cool. But I love having back-ups of my physical media, I adore curating this digital experience, and the WD PR2100 has fulfilled every aspect of it.
I’ve had it over a year now and haven’t encountered a single problem. It was easy to set-up, runs like a dream, and is flexible enough for me to use for a whole host of reasons. I love it, and think you will too.
So, yeah, I might be a rickety old fuck, but at least my media collection is fresh and new. I’m not sure what that proves, but it’s something.
This post includes affiliate links to products that you can buy online. If you purchase them through our links, we get a small cut of the revenue.
Did you know we have a newsletter all about consumer tech? It’s called Plugged In – and you can subscribe to it right here.
Published February 10, 2020 — 15:22 UTC